Saturday, October 20, 2018

Those Entrance Exam Years - Part 2

I started off this 4-part series by talking about how nostalgic I become when I see news items of entrance exams for professional colleges.  Please read on for Part 2.


My son was now all set to start at the coaching institute. It was time for some logistics. They had two slots: one was at 6.00 in the morning and the other was 6.00 in the evening. Choosing the first option would mean he could reach the destination in half an hour to forty-five minutes - courtesy no traffic. The question then was he had to get up by 4.45 - 5.00 in the morning. Could he? He would have to go through this process for the next two years! From the institute, he would then have to directly go to school. The school starts at 8.10 am. Even if he gets delayed by 5 minutes the school would penalize him. This also meant my husband had to take him to the coaching class every day.

Choosing the evening session would mean commuting in heavy traffic. He would have to start directly from school and while coming back it would almost be 9.00 pm. He then had to finish his homework, study, prepare for tests, complete school projects and so on and so forth. Whew!!

After weighing all the pros and cons, we decided on taking the morning session.  However, as a mother, I was worried about him eating on time and eating healthy. Since he would start at 5.00 in the morning, he would not be able to have his breakfast. We decided to send his breakfast and lunch box courtesy, my younger son who was also studying in the same school.

Finally, things sort of fell into place. It now became a routine for my son and husband to go early in the morning. While my son attended his classes, my husband would take his early morning walk in the park nearby, amidst lush greenery with birds chirping and temple bells ringing all round. This did have some positive aspect after all!

Every day would be an adventure, which we would all wait to listen to. My husband who is a safe driver otherwise had now become a la James Bond and Michael Schumacher rolled into one. Maneuvering the car through small gaps, whizzing past just as the signal would turn red, and a couple of times even jumped the signal so that they could make it to school on time. This routine would continue from Monday to Saturday. Even Sundays were not spared. The only grace was, the classes started a little late and my son would go on his own.

Many a time I would wonder if this high action drama was necessary at all. The solace was that my son found some of the Professors at the coaching institute to be really good. He really enjoyed the way math and physics were taught there. Anything that required logic, reasoning and analytical skills interested him. Here was a designed course material that was challenging and required him to really rack his brains instead of the usual rote method which generally the schools here in India follow. In fact, he would say that he had a better conceptualisation of problems and also would try different ways of solving the same.

The next two years just whizzed past. The days seemed to be blending one into another without a break. His life revolved around studies, exams, tests, and homework. While we were providing the support systems for the preparation, we also realized that bulk of the effort could happen only through self-motivation and not through daily persuasion. Hats off to the boy (and tens of thousands others like him) for being focused for 2 long years managing 2 schools with 2 different curricula simultaneously.

This of course, did not mean that it was academics all the time. Yes, birthday parties were still on, sleepovers did happen but a little less frequently. Once in a while when we felt he was becoming a little lax, there would be pep talks too!

Yes, as parents we did go through moments when we would feel he could have studied a little more than he did or he could have utilized time in a better way and so on. He would get cranky at us sometimes. But, well that seemed to be a part and parcel of life at that given point of time. There were some very anxious moments for us when just before the pre-final exam he fractured his right hand!! Thanks to Abacus classes that he had attended for two years when he was in his 4th and 5th grade, he managed those days by writing his notes with his left hand! And finally, the 12th grade exams were just around the corner. It was Exam time!

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